The increase in number of drunken driving cases can be attributed to the toothless laws. Law enforcement agencies cannot do much when it comes to getting offenders punished.
As per current laws, if a person is booked for drunken driving, he or she has to pay a meagre fine of up to Rs 2,000. In case of repeating the offence within three years, the offender can be sent to prison for six months.
In fatal accident cases, offenders are usually booked for death caused by rash and negligent driving under section 304 (A) of IPC, in which the accused would get maximum jail term of two years.
In rare cases, offenders are booked under 304 of IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), which attracts maximum 10-year imprisonment.
Experts feel that it is very difficult to get conviction under this section of law.
“In a city with good roads and luxury vehicles, laws are archaic and ineffective. Motor Vehicle Act or sections of Indian Penal Code relating to dangerous or drunken driving are absolutely toothless in terms of punishing offenders,” said SK Chaudhary, former joint commissioner of Delhi Police, who resides at DLF City, Gurgaon.
Bharti Arora, DCP (traffic), Gurgaon police, said “The death caused by the rash and negligent driving comes under the section 304 (A) of IPC, in which the accused would get maximum jail term of two years. Only 10-15% offenders got convicted by courts.”
The lack of stringent laws is best illustrated by the case in which three boys (all students of reputed public schools) were killed in a car crash in 2008 on Gurgaon Expressway. The car was being driven by one of their friends, who was allegedly drunk and had escaped with two-year imprisonment.
Given the high death rate due to road accidents, there has been a growing demand from various quarters for a more stringent law for driving under influence of alcohol.
“Efforts such as recommending cancellation of driving license of habitual drunken drivers by the police have not worked as the licensing authorities did not address the issue at all,” said a police official on the condition of anonymity.